Obama Wants to Close Guantanamo, But Not If It Costs Half a Billion Dollars

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GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission)  A group of detainees kneels during an early morning Islamic prayer in their camp at the U.S. military prison for "enemy combatants" on October 28, 2009 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in his first executive order last January to close the infamous prison within a year's time, the government has been struggling to try the accused terrorists and to transfer them out ahead of the deadline. Military officials at the prison point to improved living standards and state of the art medical treatment available to detainees, but the facility's international reputation remains tied to the "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding employed under the Bush administration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
The White House is running out of time.Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

President Obama is determined to fulfill his campaign promise to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison before he leaves office, but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to pay any price. While the White House said it would send Congress a proposal for shuttering the detention center months ago, The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama recently rejected a blueprint from the Pentagon because it would cost $600 million. Eventually housing the remaining detainees on U.S. soil would have cost less than $300 million annually (compared to the current annual cost of $400 million), but Obama told Defense Secretary Ash Carter last month that with the one-time costs the proposal was too steep. The president’s rejection makes sense, since he’s argued that keeping the prisoners overseas is too expensive, but he’s running out of time to be thrifty. A Pentagon spokesperson said the administration is working on another plan to “safely and responsibly” close the prison.